Effect of clinician designation on emergency department fast track performance

Julie Considine, Matthew Kropman, Helen E Stergiou
Emergency Medicine Journal: EMJ 2010, 27 (11): 838-42

OBJECTIVE: To examine the effect of clinician designation on emergency department (ED) fast track performance.

DESIGN AND SETTING: A retrospective audit of patients managed in the fast track area of an ED in metropolitan Melbourne, Australia.

PARTICIPANTS: Patients triaged to ED fast track from 1 January 2008 to 31 December 2008 (n=8714).

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Waiting times in relation to Australasian triage scale (ATS) recommendations and ED length of stay (LOS) for non-admitted patients were examined for each clinician group.

RESULTS: Compliance with ATS waiting time recommendations was highest (82.5%) for emergency nurse practitioners/candidates and lowest (48.2%) for junior medical officers. Median ED LOS was less than 3 h for non-admitted patients, and 85.8% of non-admitted fast track patients (n=6278) left the ED within 4 h. Patients managed by emergency nurse practitioners/candidates had the shortest ED LOS (median 1.7 h) and patients managed by junior medical officers and locum medical officers the longest ED LOS (median 2.7 h) (χ(2)=498.539, df=6, p<0.001).

CONCLUSIONS: Clinician designation does impact on waiting times and, to a lesser extent, ED LOS for patients managed in ED fast track systems. Future research should focus on obtaining a better understanding of the relationship between clinician expertise, time-based performance measures and quality of care indicators.

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